Need advice on the best tool to do rounded corners - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 06-14-2018, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Need advice on the best tool to do rounded corners

Hello all,

I'm new to this forum and to woodworking in general. I'm starting my first woodburning project (attempting to do a fathers day gift) using a 3/4" piece of untreated pine framing lumber. I would like to round out the corners on the piece and need some advice on the best tool for the job. The only tools I currently have in my arsenal are some wood chisels and a crosscut saw (I know this won't work). I have seen some youtube videos where people have used chisels to do the rounding and then finished it off with sanding but that seems to take a fair bit of time.

Besides the chisels I came across videos for three other tools. 1. A fret saw for very fine work and but I read this is only good for softwood less than 2" thick which mine is however I would appreciate if someone can confirm this is true. 2. A coping saw which supposedly isn't as good for really fine work but is good for thicker hardwoods as well as softwoods and is better for a broader range of tasks. 3. A scroll saw but this seems like it might be overkill for this project (not to mention expensive to buy). Having said that I found someone selling one for $40 on Kijiji which is within my price point if the consensus is the scroll is the best/easiest tool for this job. I don't mind putting some elbow grease into it so have no trouble using a fret or coping saw if one of these is the better tool to use.

I would also like advice on how best to not only round out the square corners but how to bevel the edges if possible. This isn't a "must have" but a "nice to have" if it's not too complicated. :-)

I have attached a pic of the piece I'm using. I don't know if you can see the pencil marks for the corners but there isn't much I have to take off which is why I'm a bit concerned about using a chisel for such a small area on each corner. I'm afraid I might split the wood. There's maybe only a 1/2" to come of on each corner.

Thanks in advance for suggestions and advice.


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post #2 of 12 Old 06-14-2018, 05:23 PM
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You could cut it with a coping saw, but a scroll saw would be easier, I do assume it is a powered saw

There is no app for experience
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post #3 of 12 Old 06-15-2018, 01:37 AM
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The cheapest way is with a wood block and coarse sandpaper. I did that a lot before I got a router. A router with a roundover bit is probably the easiest, but may be out of your price range. A cheap, hand held scroll saw (jig saw) will also work fine, then just use the sanding block to smooth it out and get rid of the saw marks.
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post #4 of 12 Old 06-15-2018, 02:07 AM
where's my table saw?
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Let's talk about curves ...

Typically, a piece of wood lays flat, is 3/4' or so thick and has 4 corners that are square and 4 edges that are square.

You can round the corners or round the edges.
A. Rounding the corners would be done using a coping saw, a coarse file or sandpaper in decreasing grits from coarse to fine.
B. Rounding the edges is a lot more work because of the lengths involved. With power tools available, a router with a round over bit would be the fastest and easiest to round the edges. With only common hand tools available, a block plane would be added to the tools mentioned above. It is not a precise way of removing the material in a uniform manner and would require a template to constantly check the progress.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #5 of 12 Old 06-15-2018, 07:52 AM
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If your chisels are sharp you can round the corners with a chisel. Just take light shaves to rough it out and finish with sandpaper.
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post #6 of 12 Old 06-15-2018, 09:10 AM
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Coping saws are only $7.88 at Home Depot. You could sand, but that would take time. You can use the sandpaper to round off the edges. You can use the cross cut saw to take off a lot of the corners and then sand it round. Lots of different solutions. When you say framing lumber, you mean it's a 2"x4"?
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post #7 of 12 Old 06-15-2018, 09:27 AM
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If you have access to a saw, trim off the corners and ends. Whatever you can trim off means less to sand off, which takes more effort.

If you have access to an electric drill, you could use a sanding drum to make the sanding go faster. A sanding drum is a small cylinder with a drill bit sticking out one end. They are usually made of rubber or plastic. Some are designed so that you slide a sandpaper sleeve on the rubber cylinder. Others have a small clamp, and you wrap a strip of sandpaper around it.

Put the sanding drum in your electric drill. Find a way to clamp the wood so it won't move as you work on it. Wear safety glasses and a dust mask. Turn on the drill and use the spinning sandpaper to shape and smooth your curve. With the softwood that you are using, it will go quickly.

At the end, you will want a sanding block (just a piece of wood that fits your hand) and some sandpaper to finish it with a little hand sanding. Use increasingly finer grits (start with 80, then 120, then 150, then maybe 180 or 220).
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post #8 of 12 Old 06-15-2018, 11:19 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks all for the speedy reply and the great tips/techniques! Tools are only good when you know how to use them so I appreciate the advice because I didn't even think of some of these ways to use them!

It sounds like I might be able to do this with the tools I have. I forgot to mention I have a drill so the suggestion of the drill bit attachment would work once I take off most of the waste. It also sounds like I can use a coping saw (which is inexpensive) or even just my chisels. I didn't even think of a jig saw which I have access to. I'm glad I wasn't way off base with the tools I listed.

I forgot to mention that I purchased a 1/4 sheet sander because I knew I had to prep the wood for burning so I already have all the grits of sandpaper. What I don't have though is the sanding block which has been suggested. That was actually on my list of "to get" items.

I might also check out the scroll saw that was posted on Kijiji. There were a couple posted both 16". One was a Black & Decker and the other was a Delta (I haven't heard of this manufacturer before). I watch a lot of the PBS programs on woodworking which is what inspired me to try my hand at it. One of the shows featured a scroll saw. It just seemed like a really cool tool! Some of the marquetry work I saw was amazing!

My ultimate wish list is for things like a router, etc. but that's down the road. :-) Having said that one of the programs I love to watch on PBS is Roy Underhill (Woodwright's Shop) and he's as old school as it gets. That's how I even knew that a chisel could be used. LOL! I would never have thought of that on my own.

Thanks again everyone. Now I'm stoked to get started!
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post #9 of 12 Old 06-15-2018, 02:18 PM
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One of the things that will make rounding with sand paper a lot easier is to use a 3 x 24" belt sander belt fit over a piece of any kind of wood or mdf. Round the ends of the mdf and keep taking a bit off until the belt can snuggly slide over the wood. We have these in the shop, mostly 60 grit, X wt. back. Very handy.
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post #10 of 12 Old 06-16-2018, 10:17 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Larry42! That's also a great idea and that's what is great about forums like this... getting tips and tricks from experienced folks. I'm making a list of my "must have" tools for right now as well as the "soon to have" and of course my Christmas "wish list". :-) I've made note of everything mentioned here and hopefully I can start narrowing down my list. :-)
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post #11 of 12 Old 06-16-2018, 05:02 PM
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Think of this as a process.
You do the rough work first, to remove most of the waste.
You do the fine work last to bring the wood to the curves of your line.

Somehow cut off the bulk with some sort of a saw.
Sandpaper over a block of wood and bring the shape to the line.

Just to be different and use hand tools that I enjoy,
I'll cut close to the line with a Kestrel elbow adze or a D adze (popular rough wood carving tools in the Pacific Northwest.)
I'll sand down the remaining adze cut marks. Use a credit card on the bench to check that my sanding is square 90* to the wood surfaces.
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post #12 of 12 Old 06-17-2018, 08:56 PM
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As Catpower stated above, a scroll saw, sometimes refered to as a hand held jig saw is made to cut curves in wood. Itís a handy little saw that if you continue your woodwork you will find many uses.
It would make quick work of the curves you have drawn on the wood.
To bevel or round-over the edges a router works best.
Start with the scroll/jig saw first.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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carving, cutting, rounded corners

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